Thoughts on the western landscape
by Kristin Hoerth
This story was featured in the June 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
When I first joined the staff of this magazine many years ago, I knew very little about the world of western art. My background was in journalism and writing, and my new boss—longtime editor Susan Hallsten McGarry—assured me that I would learn about the art world as I went along. Over those first few months and years, I began to understand what the universe of western art was like: where it had come from, where it was based geographically, which events were considered the most prestigious, and so on.
At the same time, I began to ask myself what types of art I liked personally, and initially, the answer to that question was always landscapes. That’s no surprise, considering that I grew up with parents who passed on their love of the Colorado mountains, among other scenic places, and considering the enormous popularity of landscapes as subject matter. Working on the magazine each month, I would often see more landscape paintings than anything else—a trend that still endures today.
Eventually, though, I realized that all that popularity can breed sameness. I started to take particular notice of the landscapes that really stood apart from the rest, that packed an emotional punch, that were so special in their color choices or composition or paint application that they stuck with me. Because even when you’ve seen a million landscapes—even after 20-plus years of seeing them—you still discover artists who express the landscape in a new and compelling way.
This month we have an especially wonderful group of landscape painters for you to discover. We have a beautiful preview of Clyde Aspevig’s solo exhibition at the Brinton Museum, which is full of his nuanced, delicately textured works. We have another striking preview of Brent Cotton’s solo show at Hueys Fine Art, with his lovely interpretations of light on the land. We have Marshall Noice, whose landscapes vibrate with color and energy, as well as Jamie Kirkland, whose canvases radiate serenity and a sense of space. And we have features on Michael Workman and Evelyne Boren, who have very different ways of conveying the beauty of the West. I hope that one or many of these landscapes will speak as eloquently to you as they have to me.
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